Job descriptions mean little in a rapidly changing world. Learn what should replace these descriptions and how to do it.
- What if I told you you had to come up with the most inefficient hiring process you could possibly think of? Well we already have it. It's called job descriptions in resumes. And we couldn't all have come up with a more inefficient process if we designed it that way. The entire mentality behind a job description is completely flawed. Most hirers are actually trying to describe the steps of a particular job, the process a worker needs to follow, rather than the results that the hirer wants. Many hirers make defining a job even worse by simply taking a job description that was used before, editing a couple of words, and tossing it into the job listings vortex of the internet.
No wonder you get applications from people who don't match what you're looking for. The process doesn't help you to find your needs accurately in the first place. Imagine the next time you sat down at a restaurant. You told the chef every single ingredient that she should use in the meal she's cooking for you, and exactly how to prepare it. Maybe you're qualified to do that, but I'm going to guess you won't want to eat the resulting meal, because the chef would bring zero creativity to the process. Now imagine that instead of telling the chef what to do, you told her what you wanted the result to be.
A mix of flavors, moderately spicy, ideally includes seafood, but I don't want to feel over-full afterword. By focusing on the outcome, you give the chef the leeway to decide the steps to follow. A commitment to delivering a great set of results, and the possibility of one of the most memorable meals you'd ever have. You might think of it as trying to describe what you think needs to be done, which the worker is far more qualified to do, rather than the problems to be solved and the results we want. That's just not the way to do it.
So let's completely rethink the job description. If you've done as I've suggested, asking your team to be involved in the process of designing the needs of the work to be done. Now you have a set of problems to be solved. Ideally, you also have suggestions from your team for the skills and experience that can be most useful in solving those problems. What you have now is a set of requirements. Without necessarily defining the specific elements, like traditional qualifications, it's not unlike the process the product managers go through in designing a product.
The product manager starts with a set of requirements, without defining any specifics for how the product is to be created. These are often called market requirements documents, or MRDs. They define what a customer needs so the product creators have a clear idea of the customer's problems to be solved, but not a description of the actual steps to be followed. So let's call our list of needs for a work role, a work requirements document, or WRD. In this case though, the requirements you're defining are for a living, breathing human being.
And that means your WRD is the starting point for collaboration with candidates for the work to be done. Why don't you try this approach with one of your existing team members? Ask one person to list out the kinds of problems and deliverables related directly to their work. Then see how much the two of you are in sync.
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- Dealing with disruptive change and the new rules of work
- Establishing a new contract with workers
- Rethinking job qualifications
- Hiring for diversity and inclusion
- Identifying key skills for adaptive workers
- Helping your team become lifelong learners
- Leveraging automation for your team
- Becoming an adaptive manager
- Making human resources a partner
- Recognizing when your adaptive strategy is working